Don't believe the hype: this year's Canadian Stage production of All's Well that Ends Well is wrist-splittingly wretched.
I was already in a foul mood when they decided to bombard the audience with ear-splitting elevator muzak before the show even began. I find intrusive music like this something of an assault, like being groped in a public place: a violation of my personal space I neither requested nor authorized. Yet retailers, restaurants, and waiting rooms seem to think you want to listen to shitty pop-music, and a whole generation of snot-noses have apparently never learned about head-phones. . .
But I digress. The play hadn't even started yet and I was already wishing I were drowning in Lake Ontario. Not an auspicious beginning. And it didn't get better: the whole play is suffused with stomach-churning EDM, blared unrelentingly through every set-transition and a great many scenes. I should have brought ear-plugs. And maybe an ipod. Because then I wouldn't have had to endure director Ted Witzel's grade-school poetry being read between the scenes (or indeed, any of his lousy play). Why this hack thought his own work would enhance the Bard (especially since it bore no relevance to anything actually happening on stage) is not as much a mystery as it might at first seem: after all, it requires a special kind of audacity to butcher a play in this fashion, an audacity that probably really thinks William Shakespeare of Stratford by himself isn't up to snuff.
The show is loud, crude, and grotesque. You can argue all you want that the ugliness is all in the original text, but the choice of presentation lies with each production. You can allude to something naughty with innuendo, or you can build a great big neon sign saying PENIS! You can decide what to emphasize, what to play up, downplay, or whether to insert phallic sausage references. The Bard gives you that leeway. What appears on stage is what the director wants, and if the production is trite and vulgar, it's because the director wanted it that way.
I hated every minute. But that's just me. If you yourself find butt-plugs hilarious, you just might dig this one.